Glick’s (Balaclava)

330A Carlisle St
Balaclava, 3183
+61 3 9527 2198

Who doesn’t love a good bagel? Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and all the gluten, carbs and fat condensed into one little (well, okay, large) dough ring and sold at Glick’s, Melbourne’s most successful bagelry chain, for a mere 70 cents?

As someone who works and plays in the city, Glick’s Flinders Lane store is my go-to store for bagels. Screw the tough, stale and insipid mockeries of bagels that sell at coffee chains and dime-a-dozen cafes in the CBD for $2, sometimes $3, each. I’d rather rock up to the easy-to-miss Glick’s store on Flinders Lane at 7:30am on a Monday morning and ask for half a dozen bagels. And for less than $5, I will have lunch for a week. While take-away is usually how I roll at Glick’s, dining in is, of course, always an option. I felt like bagels for breakfast one November morning* so I dragged Yoko and John Cathy and Aaron out of their beds and down the road to Balaclava. I mean, if I’m going to do the whole bagel breakfast thing, I may as well do it properly – at the original Glick’s store in the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish epicentre, right?

I’m not sure whether it’s the same for all Glick’s stores, but the one in Balaclava and the one in the city stick to the same format – bagels are available to take away (on their own or with fillings), or you can dine in. Other sundry Jewish dishes (or dishes of the Eastern European are also available, though most of them flaunt themselves for hours on a bain marie like a $2 hooker in St Kilda, as opposed to being cooked to order.

Unlike its cosier and more polished city sister, the Balaclava store is more spacious and utilitarian. On one side of the café, you have rows of bagels and other baked goodies tempting you in addition to bain marie goodies and a fridge stocking ready-to-bake bagels and pierogi. On the other side, you have chairs and tables filled with elderly Jewish folk ‘oy’-ing and ‘schmelschitzschitzskiskiovski-ing’ as they bite into their bagels.

We each had a filled bagel. Because our visit was so long ago and because I didn’t write any notes, I forgot how much each filled bagel cost. I wouldn’t be wrong, though, in saying that they range from $4 for a basic bagel to $8 for a fully-loaded one. Cathy ordered an onion (and poppy seed) bagel with avocado in it. It doesn’t sound like much but it was extremely filling (she struggled to finish it, even) and it tasted delicious – the piquant bits of baked onion went extremely well with the creamy avocado.

Aaron decided to go simple with his. He chose a jam and cream cheese filling – two spreads that, in my opinion, form a delightful and somewhat underrated union (though they have nothing on peanut butter and chocolate, or peanut butter and jelly). I could see the combination working beautifully sandwiched between a neutrally-flavoured bagel such as a plain or even poppy seed-flavoured. But onion-flavoured? Okay, that’s just as weird as eating French fries dipped in sundae. Or tofu and Nutella (true story). It actually wasn’t bad though – nice combo of three.

I decided to be boring and order my usual – smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers on a rye bagel. Oy.

Seriously, folks, what more can you want? Okay, maybe the now-Premier of Victoria walking in with his entourage for a media op while my face was smeared with cream cheese *facepalm*

Cathy decided that bagels weren’t enough (this was despite the fact that her bagel alone was making her full!). She disappeared to the counter and promptly came back with three falafels, accompanied by hummus. They were not the best falafels I’ve had but they did fine – they had a light and tasty filling that was encrusted by a crispy exterior. The hummus wasn’t bad either.

Although it was nice to sit at a bagelry in the heart of Melbourne’s Jewish centre, ultimately I think I prefer Glick’s city store. The food’s the same and the prices are the same but I do prefer the city store’s warm, wooden interior. Plus, their staff are hotter. Plus, it’s more convenient for me. Now if only they opened a Doncaster store. I mean, hey, we have a synagogue so why not a bagelry? 🙂

*Yes, November! I completely forgot about this entry until I accidentally stumbled across some un-posted bagel photos on my computer last night and thought, ‘Oh nooooooes!’ Just as I well I found them, or this entry would not have been written at all and you all would have been crying. For reals.

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Las Chicas

203 Carlisle Street
Balaclava VIC 3183

Walked out the front door on a Monday morning and realised that you forgot to eat breakfast on your tram ride to the tram stop?

Not to worry, for Las Chicas will save your arse (well, only if you happen to live in the Balaclava area).

Situated literally on the foot of Balaclava railway station, it is the perfect place to grab breakfast. Or brunch. Or lunch. Its vivid graffiti-lined walls tells you that you’ve indeed come to the right spot, yet strangely they seem eerily out of place on a typically dead Saturday morning (we are, after all, in Jewish territory here). Once inside, however, you are treated to warm welcomes and smiles – not an easy feat on a Saturday morning. Then again, if you happen to be running a café that is already half-full at 7:15am on a Saturday morning, well, why wouldn’t you be smiling?

Its name suggests that the menu is tainted with Spanish flavours, however the foods seems to draw inspiration from everywhere. I could only spot a couple of items from the extensive menu that was even remotely Hispanic – the breakfast burrito, an interesting mix of scrambled eggs, rocket, bacon, salsa, guacamole wrapped neatly in a soft tortilla, which is something I’ll order next time. This time, I opted for a dish that seemed like it had the serious case of yellow fever – a shallot omelette topped with enoki mushrooms and sesame spinach ($15). It was served with a ‘Japanese-style- dipping sauce which was nothing more than tamari and vinegar.

Let me just say that the omelette looked bigger in real life than in the photo. I’m telling you, guys, it was like an omelette on ‘roids. I struggled to finish the beast; how many eggs did it take to make the omelette? Your guess is as good as mine. How did it taste? Well, I love eggs, I love mushrooms and I can force myself to like spinach (especially when covered in sesame seeds) so I did enjoy the omelette – not so much the dipping sauce though, which was a bit too sour for me (substituting the vinegar for something sweeter would have made it perfect). I was so full that I didn’t bother eating the slices of buttered toast that went with it, nor did I start to get hungry again until late in the afternoon. Ah, the breakfast of champions.

A passable soy latte provided the caffeine component that was required at such a ghastly hour ($4). It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the best I’ve had either.

No time to sit down for breakfast? Apparently all the items on the menu are available to take-away so you can have breakfast at your desk, or be the envy of your office come morning tea time. While I struggle to see how one would be able to courier a serving of eggs Florentine safely into the office on a train, thankfully items such as brekky loaves make such tasks easier.

I chose a semi-sweet carrot and date brekky loaf which was served with a generous dollop of pistachio ricotta ($7.50 for half a serve, $15 for a full serve) and graciously presented to me in a plastic take-away container. The carrot loaf was, as its name suggested, not too sweet but the sugar quota was met by the sticky sweet dates. The pistachio ricotta had a lovely, creamy texture and gave the bread a much welcomed savoury and nutty boost. The perfect morning tea to go with your crappy Nescafe.

While the shallot omelette is something that I can confidently recreate at home, I reckon I’ll be back again to try some of their other innovative breakie dishes. that burrito being #1 on my list. It’s a place that you’ll happily pretend to forget your breakfast for, and a place that you’ll gladly miss the 7:38am city-bound train for.

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